In fight for Dalit vote, BJP plans 100-ft statue of Pasi icon Uda Devi
The BJP has decided to take the fight for the Dalit vote ahead of the Lok Sabha election next year to the door of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh.Updated: Dec 31, 2018 20:54 IST
The BJP has decided to take the fight for the Dalit vote ahead of the Lok Sabha election next year to the door of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh.
It has plans to install a 100-feet statue of freedom fighter Uda Devi and develop a park and memorial in the name of the Pasi icon, who fought the British East India Company Army in Lucknow in 1857.
A majority of memorials and parks to Dalit icons in the Uttar Pradesh capital have been constructed by the BSP governments in the past. The party’s chief Mayawati even installed her own statue in the city. And, now the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to strengthen its hold.
The BJP was able to win over the Pasi community in the last Lok Sabha election and the state assembly election in 2017. Out of the 71 BJP Lok Sabha members from the state, six belong to the Pasi community. Similarly, 23 of the BJP’s 310 MLAs are Pasis.
Addressing a meeting of social representatives of the BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha on Sunday, party’s member of Parliament from Mohanlalganj Kaushal Kishore called upon the Pasi community to donate iron for the construction of Uda Devi’s statue.
The statue will be installed in Lucknow, Kishore, who is state president of the BJP’s Scheduled Caste wing, said. A small statue of Uda Devi exists in Lucknow’s Sikandar Bagh area. It was installed during the Kalyan Singh regime in the 1990s.
Later, Kishore said while speaking to the Hindustan Times that a meeting of the members of the Pasi community will be held after the winter session of Parliament to launch the donation campaign and mobilise it for the statue’s construction.
As Uda Devi laid down her life for the country, members of other communities will be also urged to donate for the project, he said.
Uda Devi became a symbol of Dalit resistance against colonial rule and killed around three dozen British soldiers in a battle near the Sikandar Bagh area of Lucknow before laying down her life, Kishore said.
He said he will hold a meeting with urban local body and panchayat representatives to discuss the project, which may come up on the outskirts of the city.
Welcoming the proposal, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, who was the chief guest at the programme, said the statue, parks and memorials in the name of Dalit freedom fighter will inspire people.
Sharma said he had already moved a proposal for the construction of a park in the name of Lakhan Pasi, a Pasi king, in the city. The land has been acquired and construction of the park will start soon, he said.
Kishore said a proposal for the renovation of the fort of another Pasi king Raja Bijli Pasi in the city at an estimated cost of Rs 205 crore has been handed over to chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
The chief minister had assured that funds for the fort’s renovation will be released soon, he said. The Bijli Pasi fort will be converted into a grand memorial to the Pasi king, who challenged the might of invaders during the medieval period, he said.
Minister of state for housing and urban development Suresh Pasi said the Pasi community’s vote will be decisive in 34 districts during the Lok Sabha election next year.
Political observer RK Mishra said the BJP planned to make a dent in its rivals’ Dalit vote-bank by wooing the Pasi community with its plan to build such statues, memorials and parks in the name of their icons.
Before this, chief minister Adityanath in November had announced a plan to install a 221-feet statue of Lord Ram on the bank of the Saryu in Ayodhya.
The state government also announced it would install a 25-feet statue of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as one of Swami Vivekananda in Lucknow. Statues of Mahanth Digvijay Nath and Mahanth Avaidyanath will also be installed in Gorakhpur.
First Published: Dec 31, 2018 20:53 IST